Understrength Cats can outslug depleted Dublin in final at Parnell
WALSH CUP FINAL: DUBLIN v KILKENNY (Parnell Park, Tomorrow, 2.0)
WHATEVER stock either of these teams placed in the Walsh Cup has been truly eroded following its postponement. By his own admission, Anthony Daly, wasn't getting overly excited by individual performances in either victories over Antrim or Galway but still used the matches to instill some cohesion and experience some full frontal combat before the league started.
Now that that particular competition is in full swing, tomorrow's match is probably more of a hindrance than a help.
Dublin will be without Finn McGarry, Tomás Brady, Peter Kelly, Paul Ryan, Oisín Gough, Liam Rushe and Cian McBride again because each were declared part of their respective college's panel for this competition so, already, Daly is without a host of frontliners.
Added to that, Dublin have come through a couple of heavy duty matches in the past couple of weeks and could have done with a week's rest so don't expect Daly to expose all of those first choice players who are available to feature against Kilkenny.
Yet, whatever shape the Dublin team takes, the Clareman will expect the same effort, work-rate and honesty from those who come in.
Clearly, the template has changed in Dublin and any players with designs on forcing their way into the team will need to first prove they are capable of fronting up with the biggest and the baddest of them.
It has been a noticeably improved facet of Dublin's play this year and something which has pleased Daly no end.
In Walsh Park and again in Croke Park last Saturday, his forwards hunted in packs to any opposition defender misfortunate enough to mis-control a ball, and several of Dublin's frees came indirectly from turnovers which were forced in such situations.
Against that, Kilkenny have long since mastered the art and even if their second-half performance wasn't all it should have been last weekend against Cork, beating the Rebels and All-Ireland champions, Tipperary, in their first two games is as positive a start to a league campaign as any team can get.
Brian Cody has less players tied up with third level colleges and could, if he so chose, field a team bearing a much starker resemblance to his strongest team than Daly.
He also has a well of talent, the depth of which is unrivalled by any other, bar maybe Tipp.
The most likely scenario here is an understrength Kilkenny team beat an understrength Dublin team without much blood being spilled and immediately, everyone turns their sights back to the bigger picture next weekend.